Sunday, March 7, 2021

Comments? Questions?
Send them to Pete at: ReleaseNotes@
comicbase.com
 

2007

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July

June

May

April

March

February

January


2006

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

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2005

December

November

October

September

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July


 

Wanted: Book Recommendations

Over the past six months of commuting, I’ve managed to work my way through everything I can think to listen to that’s available as an audiobook. What I need now are some sage recommendations to help me broaden my horizons. What would you recommend to someone in the mood for a really good thriller, but who’s already read (or heard) everything from Dean Koontz and Tom Clancy? If possible, I’d prefer something set in the present or near-future (Nazi-era espionage is great stuff, but not what I’m looking for at the moment).

Alternatively: I’ve really enjoyed Christopher Moore’s stuff (I just finished, “You Suck: A Vampire Love Story”—it was terrific!). Any other fans of twisted comedy that might want to give me a push toward their favorite authors?

Any help you can give me is much appreciated, and it’ll sure make those long crawls through traffic on Highway 87 go by a lot faster!

The Atomic Avenue Laptop

A fellow dad from Neil’s robotics team works in a shop where they’ve got a a computer-controlled laser etcher/printer. (Sort of like the much-coveted Versalaser, but, I gather, a tad more industrial). After months of working up the nerve, I called in a favor and asked him to etch the Atomic Avenue logo on the back of my Dell laptop. (As for the favor, let’s just say Legos were involved…)

I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit nervous all week waiting to hear what happened (his shop is a few hours away, so he commutes back and forth every other week). Having done enough pre-press work that didn’t involve a high-powered laser drilling away at your laptop, I’ve had nightmares of everything from bad centering to some sort of bizarre printer glitch that would permanently etch the words, “Sorry, a Postscript Error has occurred.” into the aluminum surface of my poor Dell. Oh…and then there’s the question of what a too-hot laser might do to the LCD screen on the other side of that few mils of anodized aluminum…

Good news is, I got a call tonight saying the laptop was done, and that I’d get to see it on Saturday when he got back in town with it. Unfortunately, the cell connection was poor, so I couldn’t really make out what he was saying about “putty” and “holes”...

I’m sure it was nothing…

 

Update:

Oooh! Shiny!

Atomic Avenue Laptop

A Very Weird Evening

Heck, it’s been a weird week altogether…

 

The Stealth Vacation

Don’t get me wrong: I love my job. My boss is awesome, my coworkers are joy to be around, the work is interesting, but the hours can be backbreaking. For years, I’d gotten through the crunch times by setting all the video games I’d bought recently—unopened— next to my workstation. “As soon as the next version of ComicBase ships,” I’d promise myself, “you can spend a month blowing away zombies and be a complete butt. Until then…back to work!”

Unfortunately, a little thing called Atomic Avenue has been messing with my scheduled goofing off for the past four years or so. During the time we were building the system, instead of spending my spare time after a ComicBase ship date plotting anti-terrorist take-downs in Rainbow Six or helping my Sim family with its home decorating challenges, I was poring over .Net Programming manuals, setting up servers, and generally working my butt off.

When Atomic Avenue finally shipped a few weeks ago, I was bound and determined to put the 80–100 hour weeks behind me and get some sorely needed R&R. The fact was, I was exhausted (as anyone who saw me on the first day of Wondercon can attest). The problem was, I was also needed to handle advanced tech support, answer user questions, and ship out the comic orders that were suddenly flooding in. I couldn’t leave now, we’d just launched for goodness sake!

What was this exhausted programmer to do? I don’t recommend it for everyone, but for me the answer was a stealth vacation. Starting the moment we packed out from the Moscone center after Wondercon, I did my level best to make myself scarce, while never actually being unreachable if there was an emergency. Several times a week I’d breeze into the office in my shorts and T-shirt, fill orders, handle whatever small brush fires were developing, then get the heck out of Dodge as soon as possible.

I still checked mail several times a day by remote, but the rest of the time I was happily blasting away aliens in Half-Life 2, saving the world from super-powered Nazi villains in Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich, or taking on the Axis more directly in Call of Duty 3. I also got a chance to actually see my family, go biking, see concerts (Brand New, Badly Drawn Boy, and The Bravery) and just generally act like A Guy With a Life.

Thanks to the efforts of our fabulous staff at Human Computing who covered for me while I was away, I think the only real place where my absence was readily apparent was in the suddenly erratic postings for “Tech Tips of the Day” and slower-than-average responses to the more technical questions posted on the forums. To all the staffers at Human Computing: Thanks, guys—you saved my sanity! (such as it is)

Anyway, it’s April now, and it’s back to the trenches, albeit not at the death march pace of yore. Atomic Avenue’s growing by leaps and bounds, and we’ve got some great new surprises in store for folks in the very near future. Keep checking the web site frequently in the days ahead, and wish me luck on my quest to find a video card capable of giving me a decent FPS count when playing Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter at full resolution!